2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Preschooler | Wear, Want, Read, Create

I’ll start of this post by saying that this post is in no way sponsored. I have not teamed up with any of these brands they are simply ones that I really like and want to share with you. Most these items are ones that have ended up on a wishlist for my kids are one time or another or are items they have or will be getting this holiday season. I also wanted to keep costs low so all of these items are $30 or less. Enjoy!

WEAR

Kids Backpack. | Dolly Wrap. |  Reindeer Shirt.

Doctor Costume. | Pom Hat.

gift ideas
READ

7 Tips to Survive Solo Parenting

Neil was recently out of town for four entire days which meant four days on my own with two littles. That’s 4 full days including 4 bedtimes and by the end of day 4 I was exhausted. I have come to realize 3 nights is my max before I start to go a little batty. I also learned the following ways to make 4 days of solo parenting work.

1. Get out of the house. It’s so easy to stay cooped up inside but the reality is just get out it will make all of you feel better.

2. Dance. When all else fails have a dance party or simply lay on the floor and let your kids crawl on you because that seems to entertain them just as much.

3. Take advantage of take out. give yourself a break and order some takeout, eat out of the cartons and make sure they bring plastic cutlery so you aren’t left doing any extra dishes.*

4. Delivery. in addition to taking advantage of takeout have someone else deliver your groceries. **

5. Bathtime. If your littles are cranky give them a bath – baths seem to make everyone happy.

6. Outsource. Skype the grandparents or parent who is out of town. that’s easily 20-40 minutes of entertainment and if it’s the grandparents you can do something else while your kids throw coconut chips as confetti.

7. Playdates. Let your kid(s) enjoy some friend time and you enjoy some adult conversation.

Does your significant other travel? What do you do to make it more manageable? 

* [I used Postmates Delivery – get a $10 delivery credit on your first order with code: 3kih]

**[I used Instacart – get $10 off your first order with code: LINGALLS21]

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Toddler | Wear, Want, Read, Create

I’ll start of this post by saying that this post is in no way sponsored. I have not teamed up with any of these brands they are simply ones that I really like and want to share with you. Most these items are ones that have ended up on a wishlist for my kids are one time or another or are items they have or will be getting this holiday season. I also wanted to keep costs low so all of these items are under $30 and most $20 or less. Enjoy!

WEAR

Mittens. I recently found these at one of our local kids boutiques and I thought they were great for little hands. They have a velcro clasp around the wrist that helps to keep them on little hands.
Beanie. This beanie is so cute and it apparently can work for anyone in the family. I was just thinking how cute this would look on Alder and maybe a matching one for Neil.
PJs. These are essential because these little ones of ours seem to always be growing out of pajamas. Plus they are cute and relatively inexpensive.
Bike Tee. NewDuds is a Vermont based Etsy shop who makes amazing shirts, prints, scarves and more. We have a full stock of Burlington Vermont shirts from them and when I was perusing their shop the other day I came across this bike tee and fell in love. If you follow our Instagram you know how much Alder loves bikes so this was the perfect gift for his “wear” item.
Zara Leggings. I love Zara clothes for kids. I especially love their little boy leggings because they just fit so well. I just purchased these cute mountain leggings in my last Zara haul and they are so cute on. Just one thing to note Zara runs a bit on the big side. Alder just grew out of this 6-9 month pants and the 12-18m I purchased him are a little on the very big side.

want
 Stacking cupsWe have at least 3 sets of stacking cups in various shapes and sizes because they are one of the most played with toys that we own. You little can do so much with them from stacking, using in the sand or in the bath, pretending they are cups or bowls or filling with various things.
Rainbow nesting bowls.  Okay so these are similar to the stacking ups but I feel like they are just a bit cooler and that they will really grow with your little one. As a tot they will use them to stack and fill with things and as they grow they turn into bowls for a play restaurant.
Toy Camera. I don’t know why but we seem to collect play cameras. We have ones that have little images in the view finder, another where the view finder is a prisim and just a plain ol’play camera. Anyway you look at it the kids love them.
Shape Sorter. These are so much fun and are a toy that is also a great learning tool. It teaches your child to match shapes, problem solve and because these ones are filled with little balls they also can be used as shakers!
Rocket Puzzle. Okay I picked this one because I want it. How cool is this little rocket? It’s also a puzzle- how fun is that?
READ

 

Giraffes Can’t Dance. This is one of our favorite books because it has a good message, is fun to read and is filled with animals.
Trucks Go. Steve Light has so many great books about various things that go. This is perfect for little ones who like things that go and it’s perfect for short attention spans.
Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You? We have the board book version and the full size book. We love it because it’s so interactive.
Time For Bed. This book is new to our reading rotation but we have already fallen in love. It is such a sweet story about going to bed. It features all kinds of animals going to bed and at the end a little one going to bed as well. Very relaxing.
My Friends. We have been reading this to Edith since she was about a year old and she still loves it. These days she reads it from memory because we have read it so much. It’s a sweet story that connects people with all of their animal friends.
CREATE

Paints. I know paints are messy but take a deep breath, strip your little one down to their diaper and let them get messy. These paints are also these paints are all natural and non-toxic so no worries if you little one still likes to test things out in their mouth.
Jumbo Crayons. I reluctantly add these two the list because Alder likes to draw on everything. I can’t avoid it though with an art obsessed three year old and a little brother who wants to do everything she is doing.
Paint With Water. These are great for those looking for a fun art activity with little mess. All you need is a paint brush and water.
Art Kit. I can’t speak personally to this art kit but it gets good reviews and it looks like it would be really fun.
Musical Instruments. I know that the banging and chiming of things isn’t every parents dream but they are so much a wonderful way for littles to create music and have fun.

What is on your tots wish list? 

Busy Mom Snacks Featuring LARABAR

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This post is sponsored LARABAR.

Playdates, nature walks, gymnastics class, swimming lessons the list can go on and on. What can I say being a parent of two little ones keeps me busy. Often I find myself “forgetting to eat” and trying to fit in bites of a meal when I can and sometimes the only really substantial meal I get in the day is when we all sit down to eat dinner together. But, mama needs her fuel. So, to keep me going during the day I rely on quick and healthy snacks to provide me with the boost of energy I need.

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Instead of turning to crackers, cookies and other less than healthy snacks I try to eat as clean as possible. I prefer my foods vegan and I avoid foods with artificial ingredients, added sugars and colorings. For me the easiest snacks are fresh fruit, pre-cut veggies, nuts and seeds and my favorite snack – LARABARs. LARABARs taste great, are an easy and healthy vegan option and I love that they are free of added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. LARABARs are also gluten-free and kosher and are non-GMO!

LARABARs are easy to throw in my purse or diaper bag and I also keep them in a basket on our snack shelf. They are a super easy and delicious snack I can just grab and eat while I wrangle children or snack on when we are out having fun together. I even enjoy them for breakfast on the go sometimes with a cup of coffee and a banana.

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I have been eating LARABARs since long before I had kids because kids or no kids LARABARs are great for those on the go. They taste great, are an easy and healthy vegan option and I love that they are free of added sugars, artificial ingredients and preservatives. I remember the days when they only had apple pie, cherry pie and lemon bar. Now with such a wide selection of flavors, my gotos are cashew cookie and pecan pie. Although, lately I have been stocking up on the seasonal snickerdoodle flavor. I’m sad it’s only seasonal. I’m also looking forward to trying the seasonal gingerbread LARABAR because that sounds like perfect fit for holiday snacks and our littles ones’ stockings

What are your favorite healthy portable snacks? Do you or your kids have a favorite LARABAR flavor? We love to grab a few LARABARs, a few bananas or tangerines and a chia squeeze packet whenever we head out for a playdate, nature walk or class.

LARABAR_logo[1]At LARABAR®, we believe that the foundation of a sound mind, body and spirit is derived from what you eat – and what you eat is most delicious and satisfying when it’s in a whole, natural state.

Yes, Stranger. I Do Have My Hands Full

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I don’t know what is is about pregnancy and parenthood that makes people feel like they need to constantly make unsolicited comments. Unless you have something nice and positive to say don’t say anything at all. I don’t want to hear it and honestly I probably already have.

I swear to you, every single time I go out I hear “You Sure Have Your Hands Full”. This started when I was pregnant with Alder and has continued ever since. I’m just tired of it. While I know that some people don’t mean anything by it, I still don’t want to hear it just the same. To me, it’s an obvious statement and  it’s a judgement on my parenting and my kids. While this may sound overly sensitive I am not going to apologize for how I feel. Anyway you look at it I find the statement to be a less than a positive one.

That being said here are some wonderful alternatives that you can (or do) say instead of making that cliched statement ….

You’re doing great. This is a much more welcomed comment and sometimes it’s nice to have a little reminder that I am doing my best and that’s good enough even if it is from a random stranger.

A Thumbs Up. Again, this is a nice gesture of acknowledgement and gives you those warm fuzzy feelings. Especially appreciated when you have one kid that you’re desperately trying to calm while trying to keep an eye on the other.

A Smile. This is my favorite one. I mean really, you can never go wrong with a simple and warm smile.

A Helping Hand. Rather than pointing out that I have my hands full stop and actually help. Open a door, pick something up that I or one of my littles has dropped, move something out of the way for me so I can pass by more easily or whatever else might seem to be helpful at that moment in time.

Don’t say anything at all. I think people forget they don’t have to say anything at all.

Rather than pointing out the obvious do or say something that spreads a more positive vibe.

Oh and for those of you who, like me, don’t love the “You Sure Have Your Hands Full” comment you could always try these responses because they are all so true, regardless of the cheese factor.

….and so is my heart. 
….and so is my life. 
Thank You. (maybe they really are meaning it as a compliment and if not they’ll be so thrown off by the thank you that maybe they’ll think twice about saying it to the next person they see)

 

2015 Holiday Gift Guide | Babywearing Edition

Babywearing is a bit of an obsession of mine, so much so that I became a certified educator. I have tested out 30-40 (maybe more) carriers over the past 3 years and I have loved some, liked a lot and had only a few that where meh. These are a few of my favorites that I think would be perfect to gift this holiday season.

Solly Baby Wrap

For the parents-to-be: The Solly Baby Wrap. I am incredibly picky when it comes to stretchy type wraps because they often aren’t incredibly user friendly, have too much stretch and are encouraged to be worn past the point of comfort for the wearer and proper positioning for the baby. The Solly Baby Wrap however is a really wonderful stretchy style wrap. The material is light, yet supportive. It has stretch without being too stretchy and it is super soft. I suggest this for parents to be simply because the ideal time to wear this is when the baby is newer because while you can wear it for quite awhile like any stretchy wrap 15lbs is when you start to notice a difference in the way it feels. That being said Alder is newly 16-months and 20lbs and I can still wear him comfortably for 15-20 minute time spans.

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For the new babywearing fanatic: Baby-Doo USA. I knew my babywearing love had become an obsession when I found myself searching high and low for a great woven wrap. I don’t know what it is about woven wraps that make them intimidating but they can be especially with the wide range of options and price points. That being said I have found the perfect woven wrap for most any budget. The woven wraps from Baby-Doo USA are high-quality, beautiful wraps that are also affordable ranging from $70-90. I have been wearing both Edith and Alder in ours over the past few months and I love it. I wear them on the both front and back comfortable and wrap with ease. While this wrap is perfect for a babywearing fanatic it is also perfect for any parent from brand new to parents of toddlers; a woven wrap is perfect from newborn through toddlerhood.

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For the new parents: Lily and Mama Market Ring Sling. When it comes to carriers my top recommendation is a ring sling. It is perfect for a newborn because it is secure and supportive, it is comfortable for the wearer and it’s great through toddlerhood because you can wear your tot on you hip and it’s easy to take on and off. I found Lily and Mama from Ruthy’s blog, Discovery Street over a year ago. I finally got the opportunity to try one of these beautiful ring slings out myself this Fall and I fell in love. The quality is excellent, the fabric is soft and the fit is great. There are a lot of great ring slings out there so it’s hard to pick just one but I am just so loving this one right now.

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For the parents of toddlers: Eventually your toddler will out grow your standard sized soft structured carrier and your stretchy wrap. Ring slings are still great but often once babies hit toddlerhood back carries become the go to carry and ring slings are not as ideal for back carries. Woven wraps are still useful but toddlers are also all about the up and down which isn’t as easy in a woven wrap. That’s when a toddler size soft structured carrier comes into play and my favorite is the one by TULA. The fit is great, the comfort level for both the tot and wearer is excellent and there are so many great prints as well. While it is an investment I do think they are worth all the hype. We love to wear ours on strolls around town, nature walks, travel and hikes.

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For the avid hikers: We love to get out and hike and we finally decided to get a hiking pack. I personally don’t love hiking packs because many don’t have a great seat in them and honestly I was anti-pack until it became more of a necessity. We were looking at bags that we could wear while we hiked and nothing seemed to work so we started to seriously look into pack type carriers with a backpack included as well as other storage compartments. After long debate we decided that Deuter had the best carriers for seat, storage and comfort for wearer. We used our REI member sale discount and invest in a pack and it has been a great decision. Edith is obsessed with the pack, it makes hikes so much easier and there is the added benefit that we will be able to use with the Alder one day as well.

Gentle Parenting Isn’t Always Easy

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Lately I have found myself saying a lot more no’s and don’t do that/touch that or stop that. As soon as the words come out of my mouth I regret it and I am kicking myself for not finding a way to be more gentle in my words, in my approach and in my tone. It’s something I am battling with everyday; being a gentle person is not something that comes naturally to me.

I am a stubborn person. I can be hot headed and to say I am controlling and reactionary might be an understatement at times. The thing is I know these are flaws of mine and ultimately I don’t want to be this way and I don’t want to teach my children to have these attributes. So everyday I have to learn to slow down, to take a breath before I speak, to seek support from friends and my partner and to take stock of how I can improve, how I can be gentler parent and human being.

My parenting isn’t perfect and I am constantly learning how to be a better parent, partner and citizen of the world. Each day I attempt to take a step towards a more positive, gentle and caring life. Somedays I take a few steps back but everyday I am pushing forward, learning from my mistakes and trying to be better.

Being a parent isn’t always easy but to be cliche being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I am learning so much from these two special beings who have entered my life and learning how to be a better, kinder and compassionate human being. So here is taking a deep breath, slowing down and giving more love.

This Week In PDX | Portland Broadway – DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

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Is anyone else squealing over the fact that Beauty and The Beast will be at Keller Auditorium this week? It is one of my absolute favorite Disney films and while I have seen the Disney World live performance I have yet to make it to a broadway performance. So, this week you could say that I will be crossing another thing off my bucket list. I am so excited to see the live performance and my favorite characters Mrs. Pots and Chip.
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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped in a spell placed by an enchantress.  If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end and he will be transformed to his former self. But time is running out. If the Beast does not learn his lesson soon, he and his household will be doomed for all eternity.

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TICKET AND PERFORMANCE INFORMATION

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast will be at Portland’s Keller Auditorium for eight performances. The schedule for the Portland engagement is:

Tuesday, December 1 – 7:30pm
Wednesday, December 2 – 7:30pm
Thursday, December 3 – 7:30pm
Friday, December 4 – 7:30pm
Saturday, December 5 – 2:00pm and 7:30pm
Sunday, December 6 – 1:00pm and 6:30pm
For information on ADA seating, please call the Portland Opera Box Office at 503-241-1802 or email boxoffice@portlandopera.org

Tickets can be purchased:

www.BroadwayInPortland.com,
Portland Opera Box Office: 503- 241-1802 or toll free at 866-739-6737
Portland’5 Box Office: 800-273-1530, All TicketsWest locations

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Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the award-winning worldwide smash hit Broadway musical, is returning to Portland as part of the U.S. Bank Broadway in Portland series. Produced by NETworks Presentations, this elaborate theatrical production will come to life on stage at Keller Auditorium from December 1 – 6. For information on the production, visit www.BeautyAndTheBeastOnTour.com.

Disclaimer: I have received media passes for this production.

Portland Babywearing Adventures with BabyDoo

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Since moving back to SE Portland we find ourselves spending a lot of time walking to coffee shops, restaurants, shops and events. With walking we end up doing a lot of babywearing because little legs are bound to get tired. This is one of our most recent adventures in Portland- specifically, the Sellwood neighborhood.

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On this day we headed out to Portland Homestead Supply Co, one of our favorite shops in all of Portland. It’s filled with everything you could want for homesteading including lots of canning and fermenting supplies, supplies for making soap, candles, lip balms and so much more. We stop in almost weekly for a draft kombucha and a visit out back to say ‘hi’ to the chickens and goats – Bindi and Nilla.

2015_10_04_SellwoodAdventures - lily and mamaOn this day, we stopped in to their harvest festival for music, cider and arts and crafts.

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Our little arts and crafters where in their happy place surrounded by glue, string and markers.

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Alder completed his necklace and then we headed over to listen to the music while Edith happily glued away. Wraps have more benefits than just babywearing, they also make a fantastic blanket to cover the scratchy hay bails.

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Once the party died down, it was back up in the wrap (Baby-Doo). This time on the front for some mama snuggles. We made a trip to the playground and then headed to dinner where spaghetti face was all the rage.

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It was a great day exploring our neighborhood, made all the more special by the closeness and intimacy that babywearing affords us.